It takes a certain type of man to be a football manager. Isn’t that what they say?
Only, that’s not technically true. Not when the sporting world is full of managerial archetypes.
But the one thing you must have is the ability to motivate. Whether that is with a quiet word and an arm around the shoulder or through an expletive-filled rant, you need to get your team playing for themselves, each other and you.
In the midst of a relegation fight, with confidence shattered and belief non-existent, it is your belief that repairs the damage. If you show enough of it, it will start to become a habit, a craze, a mania that may just catch on with the men you have been employed to transform.
Watching Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio on the side-lines at St James’ Park on Sunday, gesticulating and celebrating like he was a born-and-raised Mackem, it was clear he was a motivator.
But it was also clear that if the Italian can be a football manager, anyone can.
And that isn’t intended as an insult, merely an observation that the former Swindon boss has realised the most important part of management – passion.
Hailing from one of the most passionate countries in the world, it is no surprise Di Canio can express it so easily. And his performance on Sunday – a performance every bit as impressive as that of his team – deserved three points all of its own.
Di Canio wasn’t employed because he was the most successful manager in the world, the most sought after or the most intelligent. He was hired because he can do what he did on Sunday.
He can watch a team he only met two weeks ago score a goal, and go crazy like it is the greatest he has ever seen.
He can slide along the grass on his knees, wearing a suit but giving the impression that he is just one of many.
Not everyone can manage at the highest level, game after game, when tactical nous and the ability to compensate against fate are imperative.
But anyone can manage the way Di Canio did on Sunday.
You have to be brave, and loud, and a little bit crazy. But if you have the confidence to shout down the doubts of eleven men, you can motivate them to something they thought impossible.
How good the Italian will be in the long-term is yet to be seen. But as a short-term fix for an escalating problem, he is perfect.
What Di Canio showed in inspiring the demolition of Newcastle is simple. He was a fan – animated, exasperated and elated in equal measure.
Is Di Canio a short-term fix or will he bring sustained success to Sunderland? And what do you make of his management style?
image: © infollatus